Fancap: Lakers Sting the Hornets

As far as the game last night goes, I was impressed with the Lakers.  Whatever they have changed in practice and in attitude seem to be working.  They shot a red hot 71 percent in the first quarter, although the Hornets did keep up with 61 percent shooting of their own.  It was definitely an offensive contest at first, with neither side playing much defense. A perfect example of the Lakers’ improved ball movement last night, however, would be toward the end of the quarter: D Fish stole the ball, and proceed to play pinball with Kobe and Ron, each passing multiple times with Kobe finishing the play for two points.

Gasol had a strong start, with 10 points and 4 rebounds on perfect shooting- he would go on to finish the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. One of his assists came on a gorgeous bounce pass to Shannon Brown cutting inside. Immediately afterwards, there was a bit of a misfire from Shannon- the Hornets missed a shot that didn’t touch the rim, so their shot clock expired.  Brown threw a three quarter court heave towards the Lakers own basket because he thought it was the buzzer sound for the end of the quarter, even though 3 seconds remained.  Things like that don’t happen too often, and you could see Shannon laughing and saying “My bad”. Hilarious.

The second quarter continued the themes of the first: hot shooting, but too many turnovers.  L.O. had an excellent game, especially considering his strained shoulder.  He started the quarter with a defensive board and an outlet pass to a streaking Matt Barnes for the layup, and continued the next Lakers possession with a layup of his own.  The defensive help by the Lakers was very good and contributed to the cooling off of the Hornets, although the Lakers dipped in production as well.  Kobe hit a really awesome, “shake and bake” type of shot, which made me smile.

Of course moments later, he got hit and bent over clutching his finger- I thought I was going to have a heart attack! Luckily it wasn’t catastrophic, which can’t be said for Matt Barnes. He left in the second with a sprained knee, did not return, and needs an MRI. Add in Lamar’s injury the other night, Andrew’s penchant for getting injured, Kobe’s knee/fingers/etc and Steve Blake’s sprained ankle later in the game (which was taped up by the incomparable Gary Vitti and pronounced playable)…. it’s enough to make me nervous for the future.  I’m so glad that Bynum is healthy and playing well, and that most of our team is excellent at overcoming adversity due to injuries, but I really want everyone to be healthy and intact. I guess as long as we’re good by April that will have to suffice.

The Lakers closed the first half with a 51-46 lead, and with Kobe 4 points away from passing Oscar Robertson as the 9th leading scorer of all time. One of my favorite moments of the half was actually courtesy of  Ron Artest. He hit his first points of the game on a spin-around midrange fallaway shot, and I swear it looked like Kobe. Probably the first and last time I will ever say that, but it was awesome.  He had a very nice offensive game, going 4 for 8 from the floor for the night and showing admirable restraint in his shot selection.

Next: Lakers Let Hornets Hang Around, Again

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